Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Counseling to help our patients navigate loss

Often counseling involves helping folks navigate through a “loss of something”. 

A loss of a love or relationship 

A loss of security and certainty

A loss of job, business or finance

A loss of a friend or connection 

A loss of freedom and autonomy 

A loss of meaning and purpose 

A loss of reputation

A loss of hope 

A loss of a family 

A loss of good health to name a few

When faced with a loss, we all go through various identifiable stages of loss. It may not be completely linear, but can fluctuate from one stage to another. 

1 Stage 1:  A sense of disbelief 

2 Stage 2:  The truth sets in, and we experience stress with fight, flight, or both. 

3 Stage 3:  We find “emotional acceptance” (not just “intellectual acceptance”)

4 Stage 4:  We adapt and grow from the experience. 

From experience, people often get stuck in stage 2, or fluctuate between stage 2 and 3. Being chronically stuck in fight/flight/freeze mode will cause a lot of psychosocial problems in people’s lives. I am sure we all see those in our practice. 

Counseling is to assist folks to move from stage 1 and 2 to stage 3 and 4, with emotional acceptance often being the rate limiting step. 

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